For many parents, the start of a baby’s second year means saying goodbye to the tiny little newborn and hello to the active and inquisitive toddler who is on a mission to explore their world. Here are some ideas that will give your toddler plenty of fun and developmental opportunities.
There is something to be said for the feeling of sand between your toes — there are so many sensations that come from digging, building, spreading and raking the sand. Developmentally your child will learn so much from sand play — fine motor skills as they control the spade, measurement, hand-eye coordination, cause and effect. But more than anything, playing with sand is FUN! If you are worried about the sand coming back into the house — keep a small brush at the door so you can quickly dust down at the end of play. Or if you are feeling really daring, incorporate some water into your sand play and make rivers, tunnels, or even mud pies.
A colouring-in table
Toddlers love to see the effect of putting coloured pens to paper, but sometimes it can be difficult for them to hold down the paper and colour in at the same time. Make it easy for them to explore their creativity by covering an entire table with paper — you can use masking tape or Blu-tac at the edges. With no limits and no boundaries on their drawings, your toddler will love making marks, spots, squiggles and more. Sit down and enjoy drawing with your child. As you draw, talk about what you are both creating and step into the world of make-believe — let your squiggles take flight and be the basis of a fantastic story which can be shared between you and your child.
The soft obstacle course
Your baby may or may not be walking yet, however, it’s likely that they will be moving around and enjoying the freedom this brings. Create a soft obstacle course in your family room by using cushions and pillows that are laid out in a path around the room. Encourage your baby to negotiate the different shapes and feel of each obstacle and offer them a steadying hand as they step over the bumps and lumps. This is a great activity to build your toddler’s confidence, balance and coordination.
The best things in life are free, and this is certainly true when it comes to the games you can play with empty cardboard boxes. Large boxes can be used as cubbyhouses or cars and are perfect for hiding behind or creating tunnels in hallways. Smaller boxes are ideal for stacking, hiding little objects, or creating brick walls. You can decorate cardboard boxes with colourful wrapping paper, or even colour them in with felt-tipped pens. A simple but effective idea is to place stickers all over them for an instant pop of colour.
Children love to recognise the faces of those they love. Take advantage of the cheap photo printing deals and put together a photo album of all the people in your toddler’s life. They will love to flip through the pages and point out their friends and family. As you look at the photos with your toddler, make connections between your child and the person they can see (“You loving baking cakes with Grandma, don’t you!”). Your child will build valuable language skills as they learn to recognise and sort their memories and stories.